” Gittu study hard, and maybe one day, with god’s grace ( How could we forget an Indian mom’s undying obsession about the numerous gods ) you will get into IIT” ..
This is probably one of my first memories of childhood. Also, I know I’m not the only one with such .. what might be the word for it, fortune? Why the bizzare fascination for a good engineering or doctor’s degree is beyond the capacity of my brain. Recently, I was reading a poster for a summer workshop being held across the road from where I live. The credentials of the instructors didnt state what they had done in the field they were going to teach children or what laurels they had won in that field, the only thing mentioned was that every one of those instructors held a bachelor’s degree from IIT. Now, here’s the funny thing, the next day I went to the place where this class happens just to check out the turnout . That tiny room in which the kids were supposed to spend the rest of the summer was packed with extra sophisticated parents trying to get their child into the program, no matter how high the cost. None of them happened to notice that the room was just about an averaged size living room and wasnt ideal for 40 children from 8:00 to 4:00 everyday.
According to the average Indian, IIT runs way higher in terms of importance than Harvard or Princeton. The Indian Institute of Technology attracts the whole of the 18 year old population in India. And, on my god, one should just see the situation outside those entrance exam halls. Children are there cramming from these huge, and I mean like 1 – 2 kg huge books, praying to every god on the planet and just hoping for a shot in their (everyone’s) dream college.
I think, we’ve actually take the importance of an IITian to a whole new level. When my parents introduce me to an IITian it usually goes something like this … “Meet this man. His name is X. He is from IIT. Worship him and learn as much as you can from him as humans dont get much smarter.”
The one thing I really do give the brand credit to though is probably a serious economic boost. No, its not because they create intelligent, smart people who are good entrepreneurs (probably that too, but whatever), its because of the number of IIT coaching centers that make money by training kids for it. The main one being FIIT -JEE there are a number of institutes in every nook and cranny of the planet. I wake up everyday half expecting to see and IIT preparatory pre – school with a tag line “to give children an early start”.Also, let me be very clear that I am just as much of a part of it as anything else. Many times, a heated debate in my bus starts on the topic “I believe X is the most desirable coaching class “… and then there is war.
Recently, I saw a column in a children’s newspaper with the heading “Are IITs losing thier sheen. My natural response was hell no. It turns out the whole of India thought the same thing. And with the comforting thought that India’s population keeps increasing and yet the no. of seats in IIT dont I went back to learning equations from my chemistry text book.